Rachel Harrison renews the tradition of collage and assemblage with her installations, in which sculpture, painting, video, found images and objects collide and give rise to seemingly disjointed constellations of forms. The juxtaposition of materials in her work is eclectic and humorous. By making use of objects such as food packaging and mannequins in a surprising fashion, Harrison injects new life into them. Her plinths-as-sculptures challenge and reinvigorate sculptural traditions at the same time as they often appear to be on the verge of collapse or metamorphosis, depending on what the viewer chooses to see.
Harrison's Voyage of the Beagle, Two (2008) is a series of photographs of heads and busts of sculptures, mannequins, toys, figurines, stuffed animals, ancient statues and other objects from around the world. The piece takes its title from Charles Darwin's 1839 travel journal, which gathered observations that would eventually coalesce into his theory of evolution. Harrison's representations of heads can be considered a tongue-in-cheek take on the construction of taxonomies.
In sculptures such as Cross Fire (2008) where a football and a coconut monkey sit in a face off upon one of Harrison's signature brightly and roughly finished plinths, traditional modes of display are upended and reinvigorated. Elements in the work often appear to be on the verge of collapse or metamorphosis, depending on how closely one chooses to look.